From 2003 until 2008, the Chinese Ministry of Education (MOE) reports on international students in China included a by-region breakdown for Chinese government scholarship data.

Starting in 2006, the Chinese government included at each Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) summit scholarship targets for bringing African students to study in China. In order to evaluate how China has upheld these pledges, Dr. Moore and I used the 2003-2008 scholarship data to estimate the number of Chinese scholarships to African students from 2009 onwards. We created a range of possible values based on the assumption of limited growth (linear) and best-fitting growth (exponential). Based on these estimates, China is most likely upholding the FOCAC scholarship pledges. 


* We’re aware this upper boundary figure for the 2018 estimate is not plausible. The farther out the prediction, the more likely it is that the exponential curve no longer fits reality. The exponential curve, though the best-fit using the provided 2003-2008 scholarship data, is probably just capturing the early portion of a logarithmic function that we would expect for something that is tied to population growth. Thus the choice to include a range of scholarships-given using both linear and exponential future growth.

Still, as shown in the figure below, even using only the linear estimates keeps China’s provided scholarships in pace with FOCAC pledges.


The only known comparison we have is that at FOCAC in 2006, China declared they would “increase the number of Chinese government scholarships to African students from the current 2,000 per year to 4,000 per year by 2009.” According to the MOE, 1,861 African students received Chinese government scholarships in 2006, so the 2,000 estimate quoted in FOCAC was rounded up slightly.


After The Conversation article, some Twitter feeds and friends have led to a few more reports.

  1. The continued strength of China’s educational aid to Africa from the Institute of International and Comparative Education
  2. Guangzhou, that which African students love and hate from the Southern Metro Daily

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